The April Consensus Revenue Estimates were released yesterday, and the findings were very poor. Estimators lowered, again, projections for this fiscal year, as well as FY16/FY17. The state is $87.5 million short for the remainder of this year but executive branch staff believes they can make it through without further changes to the current budget.
FY16/FY17 is a different story that will be told by Gov. Brownback on Thursday when he releases his budget amendments. The governor will have to come up with almost $400 million. This includes the lowered revenue estimates of $98 million for FY16 and $108 million for FY17.
Leveling off the budget will be more difficult since the school block grant bill and KPERS bonding provisions have already been passed. These two items make up a significant part of the overall state budget, so cuts would have to be made to the smaller portion of the state budget.
The legislators could also look at raising taxes, removing sales tax exemptions, or even raising the statewide sales tax to make up for the shortfall.
For their part Kansas legislators have said education, social services, and pensions need to be funded. The question is at what level. It is important to remember that the recently passed school finance block grant bill was a policy bill, not an appropriations bill. This means that the school block grant bill is not funded yet. Changes could be made to the omnibus budget bill that impacts the school block grant bill. The likelihood of that is quite remote but so is a massive infusion of sales tax revenue.
More will be learned Thursday when the governor releases his ideas to close the budget shortfall.